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People Are Looking Death In The Face While We Turn The Other Cheek


People Are Looking Death In The Face While We Turn The Other Cheek

Phoebe Wynn-Pope

In 1992, just one generation ago, I witnessed the famine in Somalia where an estimated 220,000 people died. The images of suffering will stay with me forever. As famine raises its ugly head in Africa again I am reminded constantly of how lucky we are to live in a country where most of us don't know how slow and painful it is to starve to death.


A terribly inappropriate title for this article. I think the intention was to convey that we look the other way (disinterest) about famine rather than presenting ourselves as victims that do not respond to violence by turning the other cheek (to present it for yet another slap).

That said Ms. Wynn-Pope has a feeling heart and that is most needed in the days ahead. Her sense of urgency that any passing time means the immediate dying of many already near death through famine is conveyed here better than most. She says it plain and straight out - how did this lack of concern for humanity come to pass?

My worry is that the Trump/Republican Selfishness Machine will literally encourage others to think selfishness, even that which results in death, is okay. More tax cuts for the rich and further cuts in aid programs selfishness. Increasing the military budget by cutting aid and social programs selfishness! Trump is a name that is coming to stand for selfishness and greed. His brand!

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands die of starvation when there is food available but not the leadership to feed them.


Thank you Miss Wynn-Pope. You ask how it is with such catastrophe that we haven't yet learned the lesson. Given the mainstream media's dance with the frivolities and falsehoods of the oligarchy, most don't know of this crisis or even that of Yemen; this article should be on the front page of every town newspaper in the "lst world".
This is yet another example of so much suffering brought down upon the poor and defenseless by capitalism and the monsters who run it.


I noticed the metaphor, too. "Turn the other cheek" is what Jesus taught. I think maybe "turned a blind eye" was what the writer meant.

But I think we understand the meaning well enough. Perhaps the incorrect metaphor underscores how this disaster can confuse anyone who looks at it with compassion.


Actually, that common understanding of "turn the other cheek" being about victimhood is itself a misinterpretation. Walter Wink wrote about it in his book The Powers That Be and taught it in hands-on workshops. In Jesus' time and culture (and still among the Jews of Antioch for whom the Gospel of Matthew was written), men did not use their left hands for anything but the toilet. In Matthew's telling, Jesus specified "If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, offer them also the left one," not just any cheek and any other one. Try to hit someone on the right cheek with your right hand; the only way is backhand, not a punch and not a slap. Backhand was the way men hit women, children, and slaves. What Jesus was actually saying was 'If someone treats you as something less than they are, dare them to shame themselves by using their "dirty" hand or to recognize your humanity by slapping you.'

We actually should turn the other cheek on behalf of our starving kindred. We should stand up on their behalf and demand full recognition of their humanity and importance to the world.


Oh wait a minute I have to wipe my eyes.

It certainly is sad what has happened to Africa. Somalia used to be a great fishing country. They had no problem feeding themselves. To bad France and the UK decided that they could profit by dumping their nuclear waste in Somalia's waters. So fisher people became pirates.

The best country in Africa used to be Libya but Gaddaffi wanted a bank for Africa that helped Africa grow. Of course, this was not cool with France the oppressive colonial power over Libya. So Hillary and France went to the UN and shoved a blunt object up Gaddafi's ass then killed him.

So wake up America. Here is you in Africa. You are responsible for and pay for and Hillary laughs about it.

And oh here you are the great American with your foreign aid.


While you think about this consider that Paris limit of 2.0 degrees C really means 3.0 in Africa yet they are not the ones creating the green house gasses you are.

PS the little tiny map is of military forces of the USA and their base or position.


Yes - "...turn a blind eye." I think you are right and yes we all got her impassioned meaning. I appreciate her strong advocacy for relief to the victims of famine. They need a persistent advocate and sadly, so will the many others who will follow them. Our mainstream press should be calling Trump to task on the famines but as yet they remain enamored of his having become presidential nonsense.


You argue a quote out of context and apparently so did Wink. He has the right to his opinion of course as do you as to the meaning of the words. However you and Wink are stretching things a bit when you impart an import not sustained by the rest of the quote in its entirety. Yes there are meanings hidden by the past such as being forced to walk a mile and Jesus says that you should walk two voluntarily. This is because under the Roman occupation, a soldier/Roman could make any Jew carry his burden for a mile. Or that when someone sues you and takes your coat that you give them your cloak as well. These are all part of Jesus's statement about not returning violence or force or hate in kind. Jesus specifically contradicts the biblical admonition of eye for an eye and tells us to "not to do this".

In all, it seems that Jesus's intent was to counter eye for an eye by saying to forgo retaliation, vengeance or hate. I doubt it had any thing to do with using the left hand. Moreover you are wrong about using it to hit someone except that it might have added insult, nevertheless it was the blow that mattered. People did not go around using only one hand all day. The same prohibition about using the left hand exists today among Muslims.


Who are you talking to exactly? The American government, the press, the public? Are you talking about progressives or those many millions in the Resistance? Are you talking about all those people who struggle to help those caught in famine?

Or is it simply easier to just say America and blame indiscriminately? For example Trump is not America, the people are and most of us don't like or respect him but nevertheless he is who gets discussed when the word America is used because he represents the government.


Very few read these pages but it is to them I comment. We folks are the ones over time who have stolen from, repressed, controlled, missionaried and suppressed Africa and its people. It has been the play ground of empires looking for colonies. It might be nice to think we could help but I do not see that happening. As you can see by the little map the US military is already all over Africa and is not helping. Helping like the Clintons help Haiti does not work. Missionaries are already spreading BS across the land. I do not know how to help but consider any American presents in any form as destructive.


Apparently you aren't an American from your comment? In any case, please take notice of where you are commenting. This is also America and it deserves to be honored and respected. Just as during the Vietnam War there is a big difference between what the government did and what the people of this country wanted. You are just being lazy in your choice of wording. I agree with what you say about what is happening in Africa but I don't appreciate being lumped in with those doing it since I and many other progressives in America oppose it... including you if you are an American!


You display your ignorance and that you have no more acquaintance with Wink's argument than my brief summary. Of course he goes on to the whole pericope. You can read an excerpt at http://cpt.org/files/BN%20-%20Jesus%27%20Third%20Way.pdf Indeed, he takes into account that any Roman soldier could compel any Jew to carry his pack for one mile. But Wink also knew that carrying it any farther would put the soldier in trouble, because there were limits on how they could humiliate the populace. The three statements are about humiliations Jesus' audience would have known well, and Matthew's too, and about turning violence and humiliation back on the oppressor, whether that's a Roman soldier or another Jew.

But this is a minor point to be made about an inapt allusion in the headline. Let's get back to the main topic.


The portion about being sued for the coat and giving them your cloak voluntarily? I missed how you worked that into your claim about my ignorance or your (wink's?) understanding of the meaning of the words.

Oh and thanks for the unnecessary rudeness.


I left that for you to read on your own, as it's off this topic.


Yeah off topic but first you wanted to go on about it hmmn? Spare me, okay!


Yes I was born right here. I am an American. There I said it. Now you being an American also may very well find my comments harsh. It is easy for us to think of ourselves as being good people and helping out our friends and neighbors. We see ourselves as okay.

Step outside our nations door and the opinions of people from other countries is radically different. Big time. So it is apparent that when discussing the USA if you are a citizen of the USA then you are in the set known as Americans. If America goes to war illegally and kills 1.4 million humans the responsibility for that falls on us all. Sorry you can not say "don't lump me in" you are in. Right up and into your wallet. You think you can dispel responsibility? You pay taxes you pay for the horror of what we do. You pay for what we do in Africa does not matter if you agree.

So in my mind folks like Wereflea got to own it. You done it, own it. You paid for it, own it. There is a paper tail. If you do not like the fact that I lump you in as should be than act.

No I am not lazy in anything.


Yes you are right. However the fact that we (citizens like you and I) protest and demonstrate against what is done in our name actually does matter. If one just says Americans as if progressives were just as supportive of these policies as the ultra right conservatives then how is there any distinction made? We all pay taxes to one degree or another even if we are tax resisters. Nevertheless when talking about the government's actions and policies, some acknowledgement must be made that we do not own nor control the government's actions directly.

Many of my generation learned that there really is a 'them and us' especially when they arrest a protester and so forth. The nation you live in is not a club that you are free to join or leave as you may. While language may be inadequate to solve the problem and attempts seem awkward and such, my feeling is that when I resort to my own generalizations (and I do) that I am just being too lazy to add a qualifier to show respect for all the dissidents and protesters who deserve it.



I do agree. Sadly, the place of one's birth can be heaven or hell. It is a trap hard to get out of if one wanted to.

This I do not agree with this. Simply, we are a nation ruled by law it is said. Our law is that we are a democratic Republic where the people tell those running for office what we want as policy and vote for the one that most closely fits our needs and wants. If as the Princeton study of a few years ago pointed out that we the people get less than 15% of what we want while corporations get over 50% the system is broken.

Someone visiting our nation might wonder why we are 24/7/365 at war and hear that that is not the desire of the American people. Our governance must have gone rogue. So It is easy to say its not my fault. I did not vote for that guy/party. Then one needs to admit that the rule of law, our constitution, is not working as needed by the people. It then is determined to be broken. As such we are then ruled by men and in real deep.

Admit its broken. Start a plan to fix it by holding government leaders accountable. All of them. If we do not do this we will find our selves wondering what to do about Texas's plan for a constitutional convention that can end all that we hold dear even if those ideals are just hopes we cling to.

Peace to you my fellow American. Lets work for a country we leave to our children that is a better one than we inherited.